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Joe Nathan: Pitches 'a lot livelier' in last outing
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

What Tigers veteran closer Joe Nathan described as a "dead arm period" is over, he told MLB.com after shutting down Cleveland for a save Thursday afternoon.

"Today was more how I felt, being able to finish," he said after retiring the Indians in order in the ninth. "My velocity is what it's going to be, but moreso I was locating where I wanted to. But it did feel like it was a lot livelier. There's different 91s, different 92s, but today, at least finishing pitches, it felt like it was jumping out of my hand better."

Nathan had yielded five earned runs, seven hits and four walks in his previous 3 1/3 innings covering four appearances.

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Jake Arrieta being watched by Cubs pitching coach
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com

Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta is at Wrigley Field so pitching coach Chris Bosio can monitor his progress, according to MLB.com.

Arrieta is slated for another rehab start before he's ready to return, but the club wants to keep tabs on his progress. Arrieta was dealing with a shoulder issue during spring, and is working his way back.

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Mark Teixeira expects to be back Sunday with Yankees
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

First baseman Mark Teixeira confirmed Friday his intention to end his minor league rehab stint and return to the Yankees on Sunday, the first day he's eligible.

Teixeira said he "couldn't be happier" with how he feels physically, per Newsday.

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Ian Desmond owns up to defensive mistakes
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com

Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is owning up to his early defensive mistakes, according to The Washington Post

Desmond has already made seven errors in 17 games, but believes he can right the ship. "If I ever want to be the captain of this team – and I do – I have to be better than that," Desmond said. "I’ve been in some dark places defensively, and this is right there with them."

Desmond had similar issues early last season, but was able to rebound the rest of the season. He admitted that he's struggled defensively since spring training, and was routinely taking extra ground balls in order to get in a rhythm. 

Desmond is hitting .226 in 62 at-bats.

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Thefts becoming harder to get for Mike Trout
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

It might fall under the category of nitpicking for arguably the most productive hitter in the game, but the dropoff in stolen bases for Mike Trout has become noticeable.

That number dropped from 49 in 2012 to 33 last season. He has just one in 15 games this year. One reason is the lack of opportunities. He has been on first base with second unoccupied just 10 times in 2014. Left-handers, who are generally tougher to run against, have been on the mound in six of those instances. The Angels led 11-1 in another.

Trout explained as well that he is receiving more attention. "Pitchers have been giving me a lot of different looks," he told the Orange County Register. "You don't want to run into outs, but we're going to stay aggressive for sure."

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Jay Bruce remains in cleanup spot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com

Reds outfielder Jay Bruce will remain in the cleanup spot Friday against the Cubs.

Bruce has struggled to open the season, hitting just .152 in 46 at-bats. He was briefly moved down to fifth in the order earlier this week, but the move appeared to be temporary. Bruce returned to the fourth spot the following game, and, after a day off Thursday, he'll hit cleanup Friday.

Bruce will look to get things going against Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija.

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Jason Kubel remains one of early-season surprises
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

Twins left fielder Jason Kubel could not have possibly kept up the pace he forged in the first week of the season, but has remained productive.

He was batting .462 with four doubles, one home run and six RBI through April 9. He is 5 for 24 since, but has three RBI in the last two games and his comeback after a lost, injury-plagued 2013 has been one of the most intriguing stories early in 2014. He has been placed in the middle of a Minnesota lineup that lacks power and owns a stat line of .340/.420/.521.

Kubel is just one year removed from a 90-RBI season with Arizona.

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Nationals the latest team to complain about transfer rule
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com

The Nationals have become the latest team to complain about the transfer rule, according to The Washington Post.

The team was stung by the new rule Thursday against the Cardinals. On a force play at second, Danny Espinosa caught the ball and stepped on the base, but lost control of the ball during his transfer. The runner was ruled safe at second, and no out was recorded. 

Following the game, some Nationals players expressed their frustration with the new rule. "They’re kind of trying to reinvent the wheel a little bit — with everything it seems," outfielder Jayson Werth said. "My opinion on it is it’s unnecessary."

Outfielder Nate McLouth added that the changes are "unacceptable" and said the new interpretation of the rule is "changing baseball." 

It's unclear if the league is planning to do anything to alter the new rule.

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Prince Fielder failing to find groove in Texas
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

Every time Rangers newcomer and first baseman Prince Fielder has shown signs of emerging from his early-season slump, he falls back into a funk.

Fielder got two hits on April 4, but followed with an 0-for-12 stretch. He slammed three hits on April 8 before going 1 for 14 in the next four games. He had three hits in his next two games combined, but is 0 for 7 in the last two. He has just three extra-base hits this season and no home runs. His stat line reads .164/.271/.262.

Also unsettling for the Rangers is that Ian Kinsler, whom they traded to land their first baseman, is off to a sizzling start in Detroit with numbers that nearly double those of Fielder down the line. Kinsler's stat line is .327/.352/.519.

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Carlos Beltran could be out after taking tumble Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran might sideline himself for the Friday night game at Tampa Bay after taking a tumble over the wall at Tropicana Field on Thursday that resulted in a sore left shoulder and right wrist.

He told the Newark Star-Ledger he would determine his health Friday morning before informing Joe Girardi of his decision.

His loss would be felt. Despite taking an 0 for 5 in the opener of the four-game series, he is 11 for 30 with four home runs in the last eight games.

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